House GOP Members Demand Details of $350 Million in Grants From Nonprofit in 2020 Election

The Center for Tech and Civic Life is partly funded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife
By Li Hai
Li Hai
Li Hai
Li Hai is a New York-based reporter for The Epoch Times.
June 23, 2021 Updated: June 23, 2021

Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.) and 13 Republican House representatives asked a nonprofit foundation that is partly funded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife to publish details of how it spent $350 million in grants during the 2020 general election.

“During the 2020 election cycle, the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) distributed over $350 million to nearly 2,500 election officials in 48 states and the District of Columbia,” Tenney and other House members said in a letter (pdf) dated June 21. “Unfortunately, now more than seven months past election day, the American people have yet to receive a full accounting of exactly how this enormous sum of money was distributed.”

Last year, Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, donated $350 million to CTCL, a nonprofit organization focused on “helping to modernize U.S. elections.” Other grants CTCL received were in much smaller amounts.

Mark Zuckerberg Awarded With Axel Springer Award In Berlin
Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan arrive for the presentation of the first Axel Springer Award in Berlin on Feb. 25, 2016. (Adam Berry/Getty Images)

“Many state and local entities have reported spending your grant money on expenses as varied and unrelated to COVID-19 as advertising, designing absentee ballots, registering teen voters, automatic voter registration, and even pay raises and new vehicle purchases,” Tenney claimed in the letter.

CTCL said on its website that the COVID-19 Response Grant program aimed to help local election jurisdictions “have the staffing, training, and equipment necessary so this November every eligible voter can participate in a safe and timely way and have their vote counted.”

“Furthermore, it appears that 92 percent of CTCL grants were given to overwhelmingly Democrat-leaning precincts,” Tenney continued. “Pennsylvania State Representative Eric Nelson raised concerns with certain counties receiving disproportionate funding, stating ‘I just felt, ethically, it was disturbing to me that the private grant distribution was happening, and it was not happening evenly between counties.’”

According to the Amistad Project, an initiative from the Thomas More Society, CTCL’s 20 largest donations all went to cities that Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 election. In addition, large amounts of these grants go to Democratic areas in the swing states of Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), a think tank and litigation center, also found that the grants were irregularly distributed in Wisconsin, and there was a “statistically significant increase” in voter turnout for President Joe Biden, but no such increase for former President Donald Trump.

Epoch Times Photo
People check in to vote at a polling place in Sun Prairie, Wis., on April 7, 2020. (Andy Manis/Getty Images)

WILL found that over 200 communities in Wisconsin received grants from $2,212 to $3.4 million, while the five largest cities received 86 percent of CTCL’s $10.3 million grant funds.

“While we have no objection to the use of resources to help people vote (with appropriate safeguards), it is important to remember that elections are a contest. When resources are expended that ease voting in some areas and not in others, their expenditure has a distorting effect on the election,” WILL stated in a report (pdf) released earlier this month. “It is not surprising that they were perceived as unfair. They were unfair.”

Tenney pointed out that these claims raised “red flags” around the country, noting that 12 states have or are planning to introduce legislation to prohibit election officials from accepting private funds.

“Given the serious questions and inconsistencies surrounding CTCL grants, it is especially vital that your organization promptly release its full financial data so the public can properly assess the influence of this $350 million during the 2020 election,” Tenney concluded in the letter.

CTCL didn’t respond to a request from The Epoch Times for comment.

A spokesperson for the Chan-Zuckerberg family told The Epoch Times that Zuckerberg didn’t determine which areas received funds from CTCL.

“While Mark and Priscilla provided an overall grant to CTCL to ensure funding was available, they did not participate in the process to determine which jurisdictions received funds, and as a [501] (c)(3) [nonprofit organization] CTCL is prohibited from engaging in partisan activities,” the spokesperson said in a statement emailed to The Epoch Times.

The spokesperson also provided a list of counties that received grants from CTCL, saying the list shows more counties nationwide that received grants voted for Trump than Biden.

The spokesperson didn’t dispute that Democratic areas received more grants from CTCL.

Li Hai
Li Hai
Li Hai is a New York-based reporter for The Epoch Times.